Once I had to take my sis to her old workplace. It’s only about 20 kms from home, but the road goes through small villages, and one section that has potholes of child-swallowing proportions. It was also a bit chilly, so we decided to take the i10.
I usually avoid driving as much as possible, I find cars to be a bit annoying, and I never feel that sense of total control with them that I feel with a motorcycle. But there are a lot of situations where cars are just better, this was one of them.
It got dark by the time we were going back. When we reached one of the small villages, we noticed the entire road was blocked by a truck with a bunch of people around it. Turns out the dude was trying to turn his truck into a storage unit by the side, and at the exact moment he was perpendicular to the road and covering it in its entirety, the steering broke.
We were told that the only 2 options were to either turn back and take a detour that’ll be more than double the distance, or bypass the stranded truck by taking a narrow road through the village to the left.
One look at the village road and I was shitting bricks. It was a thing of nightmares, just wide enough for 1 car and 1 bike to cross, with 5 feet deep concrete ditches on both sides.
The margin for error was 0. That road looked like the definition of a bad idea.
Had to make a quick decision, it was getting dark, and I decided to go for it. The village road although extremely high risk, would also get us home in about 5 minutes, whereas the detour would take us 30.
To this day I’m not sure if it was the right choice to make or not.
The first section was alright, just a straight path at right angles to the main road. There was a very narrow right turn, but I managed. As soon as the car straightened though, I saw a new, much bigger problem.
There was a huge pile of sand in the middle of the path, covering more than half of it. There was just a small patch on the right for a wheel to pass, and right next to that the mother of all ditches. The mound of sand was too high on the left, there was no option but to take it to the edge.
I looked back to see if it was still possible to get out of there, even if I somehow made that tricky 90 degree turn, in the dark, in reverse. But no, there was a fucking tractor right on my ass. The only option was forward.
I hate being trapped.
I have a moderate amount of experience with cars, some 40,000 kms. But what I do have is far more kilometers of gaming experience, especially simulator racing. Assetto Corsa, F1 games, Dirt Rally, I’ve spent hundreds of hours on them. In some sense sim racing is far more intense than real world driving, but of course in the end, games are games.
The point I’m trying to make is that even with my limited experience, I knew that this wasn’t going to be easy. If I went too slow, the left tire was going to get stuck in the sand. If I went too quick, the car could easily get destabilized.
This wasn’t the place to make mental mathematical calculations though, it was go time.
I took off and rammed the sand dune at what I thought was the optimum speed, but of course there’s no such thing. I immediately felt the left front hit the sand, and the car veered to the left a bit. As the front was almost out, the rear left hit the sand and the car slid to the left a bit more. My main concern was that since I had so little margin on the right, the car drifting to the left like this might push the rear right tire over the edge. So with an instinctive move, I corrected the steering and turned it, paradoxically, to the right. There was a moment when I could feel the car moving diagonally, although I’m sure it was much more tame than the Tokyo Drift I imagined. The car straightened up, the steering snapped back a bit due to the overcorrection, but we were out.
In that moment, there was no time to “think” of what to do, that counter intuitive reaction to move the steering towards the cliff had to be pure muscle memory. It was muscle memory for me partly because a lot of my real world driving experience is in the mad world of hill driving called Himachal Pradesh. But the main reason I was able to react so quickly was because of games. I remember that feeling of turning the steering and sort of trying to hold the slide, that’s not something I’ve ever done in a real car.
Knowing how to drive a car, and drive it well, is not just important for such dangerous situations. If you are biker, it’s also extremely useful if you understand how a car driver thinks, what a car can do, and what you can expect them to do together in a given scenario.
Not the first time I’ve said it, but riding or driving is a game of anticipation, you try to predict what’s going to happen 3 seconds from now and move based on those assumptions. Your assumptions will be much more accurate if you have personal experience with more of the variables.
Knowing how to drive a car makes you a better biker.
So yeah, F1 2020, great game, a steal for 1300 bucks, buy it.